Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gibson the Bruce

Two-dimensional political orientations (right-left, conservative-liberal, etc) don't tend to map well onto one country from another, even when the populations of the countries under consideration share large swaths of identity in terms of language, history, religion, and culture. Corresponding party affiliations map even more poorly still from country to country. In the US, secession is generally regarded as a goal of a subset of those on the right, in large part due to the history of the American South. That is far from a universal pattern, however.

With polls showing a statistical dead heat in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, it's perhaps interesting to note that the quite leftist country of Scotland--whose possible withdrawal from the UK seriously threatens Labor's national presence--doesn't have particularly leftist cousins across the pond.

In fact, of the 42 different ethnic categories listed in the GSS, those of self-identified Scottish descent (n = 1,308) are members of the single most conservative ethnicity in America, with 43.4% placing themselves somewhere in the "slightly conservative/conservative/extremely conservative" nexus, compared to 34.5% of the US as a whole. They are more conservative than those of English or Welsh or German descent, and even more conservative than those who identify as "American only". Scottish-Americans are even redder than the McCain belt is.

GSS variables used: ETHNIC, POLVIEWS(1-4)(5-7)


BehindTheLines said...

I've got a feeling that if Scotland gains independence, it won't be able to blame England for its troubles anymore, and it will have to pull its own weight. In a generation or two, it might end up to the right of England. I'm hoping for a "Yes" vote.

bleach said...

Most of the "Scots" in America today are actually borderers, you know those guys that the Stuarts deliberately sent out of Great Britain because they were uncontrollable. They don't seem to have much in common with the Scots of today.

That's assuming anyone with roots in America since the 17th century can realistically have a single ethnic origin these days, which is doubtful. Ethnic self identification is pretty meaningless, in fact.

Anonymous said...

All the manly men were exiled to the New World; all the girly 'men' remained in Scotland.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Just as some Englishmen become even more English when they live abroad in Australia or the US, perhaps the Scots who landed in the US found themselves surrounded by non-Scots and felt compelled to amplify their ancestral 'blood and soil' identification, clannishness, and Scottishness.

JayMan said...

A couple of things to keep in mind:

Indeed, most of the Scots in America are Borderlanders (except in New England, where many are Highland Scots spilling over from the Canadian Maritimes – also on the NC/VA Outer Banks islands), who were quite different from the settled Lowland Scots (who had quite a bit in common with the English, genetically).

Second, see this comment of mine at Steve Sailer's. The split between the Lowland Scots and the Highlanders and the Borderlanders is visible today in the vote.

Third, clannishness has different impacts depending on what side of the equation you're on. Many of the "leftist" groups in Europe are actually the more clannish ones. The reason? Because they tend to be the lower IQ areas, and vote for more handouts from their more productive, more outbred compatriotrs. We see the same thing with clannish non-Whites in America.

If you're clannish, you vote no to (economic) liberalism if you stand to lose, but yes if you stand to gain.

Audacious Epigone said...


I wonder if Scotland will have any trouble getting accepted into the EU with the financial troubles of the so-call PIIGS. Any idea?


Right, I hear that criticism regularly, and it's worth bearing in mind. However, there are lots of things we'd expect to correlate with accurate self-identified ethnicity that do. In other words, while it's not exacting, it's not meaningless, either.


I want those manly men to stand up here in the US. In the words of Edward Murrow, we are not descended from fearful men.


Thanks. Regarding clannishness, that's a great heuristic--the more tribalistic a group is, the more it will tend to vote for its naked self-interest. The outbred, leap-frogging loyalty types, on the other hand, are more relatively likely to vote for abstract principles. For the Scots in the UK, redistribution is a net plus. For Scottish-descended Americans in the US, it's a net negative.

Audacious Epigone said...

Re: Jayman's comment, Scots in the US are mostly borderlanders and low land Scottish, and it's the lowland areas that are more favorably inclined towards secession.

BehindTheLines said...

Audacious Epigone:

Interesting question. I'd guess that whether to let Scotland in the EU would be based more on political considerations that economic considerations. If the Scots were enthusiastic about joining, I'm guessing the EU would let them in on the basis that it would be a coup for the EU to admit a new member, particularly if Scotland adopted the Euro, and gave up the special British Rebate in money given to the EU. This would be particularly true if the rest of the UK left the EU.

On strictly economic grounds, the "northern" Scots would probably be a net producer of EU funding compared to the "southern" PIIGS ans central European countries which are net consumers.

Dan said...

The thing is, Scots are the among the relatively more productive people in America, so they become the conservatives.

Conversely, Somalians who were among the conservative elite back home arrive in the west and become leftists, being less productive than the average joe.

I don't buy the claim of some political orientation is so genetic. Russians in the 20th century occupied the extreme left not only of their time, but of all human history. They are now the right-most country I can think of on the political scene. Eastern Europe's, China's, India's and Israel's reversals are kind of similar. America depressingly has been drifting in the opposite direction.